By Steve Bossert | February 5th 2022, 3:00 PM (ET)
RHINEBECK, NEW YORK - During the last weekend of January every year, thousands of licensed radio amateurs take part in a Winter Field Day to promote communications readiness during the coldest part of the year across North America.
Participants who wish to make radio contact during the event use frequencies capable of long-distance communication with no man-made networks like the internet or 4G/5G networks. These "Short Wave" frequencies span between 1.8 to 30 MHz with dedicated "bands of operation" for radio amateurs also referred to as "ham radio" enthusiasts.
Three classifications of participants take part in the Winter Field Day Association (WFDA) sponsored event. The WFDA asks all participants to send contact logs to them after the 24-hour event is over. Bragging rights as to who made the most contacts as part of the outside, inside and home categories are at stake and different bonuses are awarded based on which communication method was used; voice, Morse code or data.
During the 2022 event, the Overlook Mountain Amateur Radio Club from Kingston, NY made over 400 contacts across the United States, Canada and beyond while using temporary heaters to stay warm and generators to supply the needed electricity to run various equipment.
Local Hudson Valley Winter Field Day Heros
In the Hudson Valley region of New York, one amateur radio club has participated in this event since 2018. The Overlook Mountain Amateur Radio Club (OMARC) has focused on improving its cold weather capabilities at Ferncliff Forest located in Rhinebeck, New York each year to enable more comfort and contact-making ability during Winter Field Day.
With the permission of Knick Staley, the preserve trustee and managing director, OMARC utilized a cabin located on the edge of the frozen pond. More than 500 radio contacts were made during this event.
To classify as a true outside station, the shelter, electric power and antenna systems all need to be 100% temporary. In 2022, the OMARC team operated as "6 Oscar" which means six radios were able to be on the airwaves at the same time as part of a legitimate "Outside" operation. Most other outside participants often struggle to be “2 Oscar” by comparison.
Volunteers set up the interior of the "shack" with plastic sheeting and hung a door to help keep the heat inside to help fend off near sub zero temperatures outside. A propane heater was used to maintain a near 70 degree Fahrenheit temperature overnight Saturday into Sunday morning. The radio equipment was powered by a gas powered generator.
Additional demonstrations were made by a novel mobile installation affectionately named "JeepTenna" by its owner John Paolucci, KD2PTX. A bright red, portable "Ice Fishing Shelter" with telescoping orange mast deployed by the Steve Bossert K2GOG, Vice President of OMARC, helped demonstrate another form of winter communications readiness as part of the event without the need of a heated cabin.
2022 Winter Field Day Was Bigger And Better By All Accounts
This was the largest deployment for Winter Field Day which OMARC has done over the past five years. Visitors offered words of encouragement and posed interesting questions about this unique blend of hobby activities.
OMARC's club President Dave Brooks K2JLV commented, "It is great to work as a team and be able to operate at safety and health-conscious events like this to raise awareness about amateur radio." Jeff “Doc” Lang, KJ2DOC Educational Director of OMARC, brought his new antenna trailer to the event and commented, “We can deploy quickly. We do not have to rely on putting wire antennae up into trees, this trailer helps us operate anywhere, at any time from any place that needs emergency radio communications."
OMARC has proven to have mastered the ability to operate in adverse conditions safely regardless of pandemic or low temperature conditions. The OMARC group encourages other radio clubs to participate in Winter Field Day in the Hudson Valley and beyond. Anyone is welcome to visit and ask questions. Getting an amateur radio license is easier than ever and either OMARC or the national advocacy group for amateur radio, the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) can share more details on how to get started.
For further information, please visit www.omarcclub.org or contact the OMARC public information officer at email@example.com
About UNDR Group
Members of UNDR Group which stands for Ulster & Northern Dutchess Readiness Group are also members of the Overlook Mountain Amateur Radio Club. The UNDR Group provides a wider ability to attract those interested in readiness which can be augmented by better training with radio equipment and skills needed to be alert and helpful in times of community need.
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